We were above 12,000 feet for the entire hike, looking across valleys to peaks above
14,000 feet. Before long, we were above treeline, where the meadows were covered with
six-inch tall wildflowers.
We four, in the rocks stacked at the top of the first summit we crested, around 12,500 feet.
Sharp-eyed Jackie spotted this ptarmagin as it moved in the rocks. I took half a dozen photos - in three of them, I couldn't find the bird even though I knew it was there. As we hiked, it ran along the side of the trail just ahead of us, finally angling away. As we stopped to watch, we saw a fluffy chick hop around the rocks not far from mom.
This is what I usually see along the trail: Jackie's back! The woman is phenomenal -
she can out-hike all of us.
This is the view to the west from the Continental Divide. This tiny photo can't do it justice; double click on the photo if you would like to see the larger version.
We kept hiking towards the second, higher summit, watching a dark cloud form and grow in our direction. Just as we crested the summit, the rain began, mixed with small hailstones.
Time to turn back.
As we headed down the final slope to the parking lot (that's Odel in his orange raincoat, with Buddy ahead of him and Jackie out in front), the rain stopped and the sun reappeared. At this high altitude, the sunshine dried our clothes quickly. The winding ribbon you see in the background is the road over the divide, heading down the western side. We hopped in the Jeep and drove a short distance to an overlook with a picnic table and ate our lunch in the sunshine.
I had marked a few geocaches on our GPS, in case we had the energy to search 'em out. One was within a quarter mile of our picnic spot, so off we went. Here are Buddy, Odel, and Jackie searching for the cache...
... and here is the victory shot! Geocaching is new to Jackie and Buddy, but they've taken to it.
As we drove away from the overlook, Jackie and Odel spotted two beautiful bucks on the side of the road. Look at them pose together (double click for a larger photo).
Peaks, lake, hail, sunshine, a geocache, a ptarmagin and this pair...
what more could we ask for from a hike?